Nasrin Sotoudeh and Jafar Panahi receive the Sakharov prize

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Iranian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LDDHI) express their utmost solidarity and support to Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh and film maker Jafar Panahi who both received today the Sakharov Prize, established in 1988 by the European Parliament to honor individuals or organizations who have dedicated their lives to the defense of human rights and freedom of thought.

This is a great victory for Nasrin, Jafar and for all Iranian human rights defenders. But we are extremely worried about Nasrin’s health which is rapidly deteriorating after ten days of hunger strike. We therefore urge Iranian authorities to release her and immediately stop subjecting her to arbitrary and punitive conditions of detention, declared Karim Lahidji, FIDH vice-president and LDDHI president. She has already come close to death in 2010 after three hunger strikes to protest her conditions of detention and violations of due process during her trial, he added.

Ms. Nasrin Sotoudeh, a human rights lawyer from Iran, is known for defending juveniles facing death penalty and prisoners of conscience. She is also a member of FIDH member organization,the Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC) founded by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi.

Detained in Evin prison since September 2010, she has been subjected to increasingly restrictive and clearly discriminative and arbitrary conditions of detention. In recent weeks, Nasrin Sotoudeh’s visiting day has been changed from Sunday to Wednesday without any legitimate ground being provided by the prison authorities. In addition to being deprived of face-to-face family visits, the new measure, which contravenes the prison’s rules, has made it more and more difficult for her to receive visits from her family over the past three months.

Previously, Ms. Sotoudeh had been held for long periods in solitary confinement and denied contact with her family and lawyer. She also reportedly suffered acts of torture in prison in order to force her to confess. On July 11, the authorities banned her husband and her 12-year-old daughter from traveling abroad.

The conditions of detention imposed on Nasrin Sotoudeh are unacceptable and clearly aim at imposing additional punishment on her for her human rights activities, said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH president. But our thoughts also go to Ales Bialiatski, one of the other two finalists for the Sakharov Prize. Ales, who is the founder and president of Viasna Human Rights Centre in Belarus and FIDH vice-president, has also been arbitrarily detained since August 2011 and FIDH will relentlessly continue to fight for his release, she added.

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